April 28 E-Bird newsletter: Fairfax County schools top national, Virginia rankings

Top schools: Fairfax County Public School magnet school Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology nabbed the top spot in the nation in the U.S. News & World Report 2022 best public high schools ranking. The annual rankings evaluate more than 17,800 schools at the national, state and local level, including nearly every public high school in the U.S. The methodology focuses on six factors, including college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth and graduation rates, WJLA reported. In addition to Thomas Jefferson, seven more Fairfax County Public Schools ranked in the top 10 in the Commonwealth of Virginia: Langley, McLean, Marshall, Oakton, W.T. Woodson, Madison and West Springfield high schools.

NASA, industry collaboration: Four Northern Virginia-based satellite communications companies were among the six firms selected by NASA to collaborate on developing and demonstrating near-Earth space communication services that may support future agency missions, including two in Fairfax County: Inmarsat Government (Reston); SES Government Solutions (Reston); and two firms in fellow Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance jurisdiction Arlington County: Kuiper Government Solutions, an Amazon subsidiary and Telesat U.S. Services. Each company will complete technology development and in-space demonstrations by 2025 to prove their proposed solution will deliver robust, reliable, and cost-effective mission-oriented operations, including the ability for new high-rate and high-capacity two-way communications. NASA intends to seek multiple long-term contracts to acquire services for near-Earth operations by 2030, while phasing out NASA owned and operated systems, Aerotech News reported.

Humanitarian aid: A group of space companies raised nearly $1 million to support humanitarian aid in Ukraine, forming the Space Industry for Ukraine (SIFU) group. Herndon-based HawkEye 360 CEO John Serafini said in a Tuesday announcement that he visited the Poland-Ukraine border last month and wanted the space community to play a humanitarian role in addition to defense and intelligence support. Commercial satellite imagery is assisting the U.S. intelligence committee understand the situation in Ukraine, U.S. officials said this week at GEOINT Symposium, Via Satellite reported. Initial projects include: acquiring and delivering medical and food supplies; providing communication hardware for NGO communications; constructing mobile medical facilities and supporting refugee evacuation. Among SIFU’s steering committee members are the following Northern Virginia companies and organizations: HawkEye 360 (Herndon), BlackSky (Herndon and Seattle based), Leidos (Reston), Maxar (Colorado based with locations in Chantilly and Herndon), National Security Space Association (Arlington), Raytheon Intelligence & Space (Arlington), and Riverside Research (Arlington). The Aerospace Corporation (California based with locations in Chantilly and Arlington) is among the participating donor companies.

Record growth: Tysons-based PenFed Credit Union had a record quarter for growth, WTOP reported. PenFed added 156,000 new members in the first quarter, the largest quarterly growth on record, and ended the quarter with more than 2.7 million members. The credit union donated $1.2 million to charitable organizations in the first quarter. “Our business priorities for the remainder of 2022 are continuing to build capital and liquidity while maintaining credit quality and delivering world-class service to members,” said President and CEO James Schenck. Check out a Fairfax County EDA video interview with Schenck by clicking here.

Air safety connection: Reston-based TruWeather Solutions, a data and analytics firm, and Reno, Nev.-based Iris Automation, an avionics safety technology company, announced that the two companies will combine technologies in a meshed network to provide real-time integrated communications, collision avoidance and micro-weather data to operators, Military+Aerospace Electronics reported.

Geofencing ship movements: Herndon- and Seattle-based geospatial intelligence and global monitoring company BlackSky Technology upgraded its site monitoring capabilities with new analytics and imaging features to meet customers’ varied needs for information gathering and intelligence across geographically diverse environments, Geospatial World reported. BlackSky can now automatically detect, track and identify maritime vessels of various types and sizes and, when combined with geofencing techniques, provide real-time alerts on the movement of critical movements of ships and cargo. “BlackSky released new imaging and analysis upgrades that, when combined with our high-revisit satellite imaging capabilities, will make monitoring the world’s most critical locations, events and economic assets more impactful for customers,” said Amy Minnick, chief commercial officer at BlackSky.

Flagging dark ship activity: Herndon-based HawkEye 360 introduced an analytics technology developed to provide naval law enforcement officials with insights into illicit maritime activity in global areas of interest. HawkEye 360 aims to boost maritime domain awareness and flag potential dark ship activities. Alex Fox, chief growth officer of HawkEye 360, underscored how increasing illicit maritime activities put global security at risk and cost economies billions of dollars. “HawkEye 360’s unique capability can detect and geolocate dark ship activity across the globe and provide trusted analytics to support enforcement and prosecution associated with these activities,” Fox said. Geospatial World has more. Check out a Fairfax County EDA video interview with HawkEye 360’s CEO John Serafini by clicking here.

Weather insights: Tysons-based Spire Global, a global provider of space-based data, analytics and space services, added “Weather Insights and Weather by Route” solutions to its portfolio, the company announced. These solutions provide customers with an analysis of how upcoming weather conditions will impact their operations and enable them to focus on improving efficiency and safety. “As a mission-driven company, we’re committed to providing solutions for today’s global challenges, such as global supply chain disruptions and climate change,” said Dr. Kevin Petty, VP, Weather and Earth Intelligence at Spire. “Our weather solutions give maritime organizations the resources they need to optimize fuel consumption, reduce their carbon footprint, better predict port ETA, and keep crew safe from hazardous weather conditions.” Via Satellite has more.

Patient identity: Tysons-based identity tech company Verato is becoming a staple among healthcare companies in the area and nation, technical.ly reported. Verato is a tech company that lets healthcare providers confirm the identity of patients. It’s a significant pivot from back in 2014, when the company came to life with a fintech focus. “What we found was that because we had the special technology that was so accurate, that was so differentiated, the one industry that cared more about accuracy than anybody else was healthcare,” said CEO Clay Ritchey.

Senior living: The Mather, a pair of senior living high-rises being developed in Tysons, is already 80 percent pre-sold, and the project won’t be finished until 2024. Construction began in October. Phase one includes 179 homes and phase two will have 114 units. The developer secured $350 million in financing during the height of the pandemic. WTOP has more. And FFXnow reported on how the Mather might employ some robots when it opens. The robots would perform simple, repetitive tasks, such as delivering food to tables and apartments and cleaning hallways.

Look up! A rotating car station is a key element of Boston Properties’ massive Reston Next development, FFXnow reported. Anchored by Fannie Mae and also home to Volkswagen Group of America, the $715 million expansion of Reston Town Center will include a jewel box — a 1,500-square-foot box that will let the vehicle manufacturer display vehicles on platforms attached to the eighth story of a planned parking garage. Reston Next is a planned four-million-square-foot extension of Reston Town Center.

Perch party: The public will get its first look at the 18-hole mini golf course and food trucks being set up at Capital One Center’s The Perch skypark in Tysons on May 21 and 22 as part of a weekend-long “Perchfest Spring Edition” celebration. “Capital One Center is delighted to celebrate the next phase of The Perch, which has become an unparalleled rooftop experience and dynamic gathering place for our community and Capital One associates,” Capital One Center marketing and community affairs manager Meghan Trossen said. Admission to all events will be free, but advance registration is required, due to limited space in the 2.5-acre park. Tysons Reporter has more.

Contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

General Dynamics Information Technology obtained a $661.6 million contract from the Environmental Protection Agency to provide a full range of IT services. ExecutiveGov

ICF received a $94 million contract from the Federal Highway Administration to help modernize the national transportation system. ExecutiveBiz

Northrop Grumman landed a five-year, $88.91 contract from the U.S. Air Force to provide support for the service branch’s tactical systems used in defense electronic warfare operations. ExecutiveBiz

BAE Systems, Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI International, Leidos and ManTech International won positions from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on a seven-year, $500 million contract vehicle for mission critical operations support services. GovConWire

Fairfax County EDA Hosted and Sponsored Events

May 2 to June 16 — Smart City Challenge. Fairfax County Government, Refraction, the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, Virginia Tech, and others will host the Smart City Challenge — an innovation competition for innovative solutions to the most pressing issues facing regions in transportation, health care, housing, infrastructure, public safety, and more. All entrepreneurs and students are welcome to join to win prizes, including cash, pilot opportunities (with Fairfax County, Dominion Energy, and Virginia Innovation Partnership), participation in Smart City Works and Dominion accelerator programs, membership at Refraction’s innovation hub, and business coaching. Click here to register.

May 3 — Entrepreneurship 101: Starting A Business in Fairfax County. Presented by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, join our panel of small business experts for an interactive webinar on how to start your business. We will provide you with informative step-by-step information sessions that will cover registering your business, permitting requirements, business feasibility and business plan basics, business certifications, financing options and government resources. In addition, the Entrepreneur Spotlight will feature Amy Dagliano and Kate Janich, co-founders of Rowan Tree, a Herndon co-working space primarily for women entrepreneurs. Click here to register.

May 5 — Acquisition Next: Artificial Intelligence. Co-hosted by George Mason University’s Center for Government Contracting and the Institute for Digital InnovAtion, this symposium is focused on the challenges and current practices for government acquisition of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. This event will be of interest to professionals seeking to increase their knowledge of AI-related issues in government acquisition, including members of government, business and academia. Click here to register.

May 10 — NAIOP Northern Virginia Bus Tour, Spring 2022. The tour will feature commercial real estate properties in the Northern Virginia region. Click here to register.

May 11 — 2022 NVTC Impact AI. Presented by the Northern Virginia Technology Council, the 2022 NVTC Impact AI Summit will explore how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the world in which we live and work. Learn how businesses and government agencies are successfully deploying AI to accelerate innovation, gain competitive advantages and improve operational efficiencies. Join the conversation with tech innovators, policy makers and thought leaders and discover how AI-driven strategies have impacted the National Capital Region. Click here to register.

How the Fairfax County EDA can help

The FCEDA is here to connect businesses of all kinds to resources and information. For direct assistance, email the FCEDA at info@fceda.org, or call 703-790-0600 to leave a voice message for our staff. And click here for resources available in the other nine jurisdictions that make up the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance.